Beyoncé did it. Radiohead did it. So did Nine Inch Nails, Prince, Frank Ocean and David Bowie.
Although the music industry has spent years calculating the perfect formula for how to successfully release an album (Step 1: Shove a catchy single on the radio, Step 2: Flood the market with promotion (What up, Pepsi endorsement?), Step 3: Hold a turnt up release party, rinse and repeat), Kid Cudi’s recent overnight release proves this pulling an album out of thin air trend among major artists isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
Kid Cudi surprised fans via Twitter Feb. 24 by releasing his latest album, Satellite Flight, without warning, promotion, launch parties, advance radio play and absolutely zero of the traditional pre-sale retail hype tactics—he just dropped the entire album, virtually out of nowhere.
“To see that [releasing an album overnight] was able to work for someone like me … who still considers himself an underground indie artist, is dope,” Cudi told Complex on Feb. 27. “People like to throw around mainstream but I think I’m only mainstream because of my affiliations.”
If major labels are “the man,” it seems it has become fashionable to hate on him. You’re not mainstream, eh, Kiddo? Last time I checked, the reason your last two albums were certified Gold was because you signed to Universal Music Group, the label that represents more than half of the music industry.
Major label album releases, whether you like it or not, are leveraged by their massive multi-billion dollar team of networking, distribution reach and financial aid—cutting out the middle man isn’t really possible in this equation.
If everyone started flooding the gates with unannounced albums, the industry would become an endless pool of album stream links too large to sift through that wouldn’t allow artists to turn a profit off—just shock value. Be careful before you use the social media bullhorn to bite the hand that feeds you.